RIYL: Elephant 6 in general…Essex Green, Circulatory System, Marshmallow Coast, Apples in Stereo, Dressy Bessy
I remember having a conversation about the state of affairs in Elephant 6 land around the time when Elf Power released Back to the Web a couple of years ago. At the time, we were driving listening to Of Montreal’s Gay Parade, and my driver seat companion sighed and melodramatically expounded ”why don’t they make stuff like this anymore? The new Elf Power sickens me.”
I don’t share his view completely on that particular release, perhaps I got severely brainwashed by their charming boyish (and-one-girl-ish) allure when we saw them play in Athens, GA later that summer (they covered classics such as My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division with gusto for the crowd’s dancing pleasure), but I really feel like the collective in these current times is walking away from the weirdness and the fun that used to characterize it and heading down two distinct roads: the electronic and the 60s pop. Both those genres, and their occasional lovechild, are so uncommonly versatile that it really is a wonder that so many do it so badly. What Elf Power accomplished with this latest record is to re-emphasize the road they started with the previous one. The songs they’re putting out aren’t exactly bad…but boy, they’re stale. I feel like a lot of the things that have been coming out lately is the same record…over…and over…and over. It’s enough to make listening to music a labor of apathy.
So many of these bands started out young and starry-eyed in the early and mid-nineties, and are now simultaneously hitting the point in their career in which it’s time to settle down. It’s a pain where you can hear them start to burn out, like watching a car crash. Kid, settle down on your own time…as my mother would say.
Now, that said, this album isn’t trash. I wouldn’t buy it, but I wouldn’t be angered if someone turned it on in a public place. Actually, I don’t think I would feel much of anything at all. An album that uses the line ”I see something looking back at me” for the thousand-billionth time since the Beatles were a band doesn’t really make for a good emotional catalyst.
Here’s my ultimate advice: if you can pretend this came out circa 1999-2001, and you can play it shuffled with something like Her Wallpaper Reverie or that one Essex Green album that wasn’t all that bad that came out in 2005, you should probably do it. But just know that you’re tricking yourself into a false sense of fullness.